The American Dream is not dead. Far from it. The American Dream, for many of whom homeownership is a core element, is alive, a flow through the bloodstream, a sense beneath the skin, an ache in the heart.
Latest evidence? A Zillow/Pulsenomics survey released yesterday states the following as its key learning from a semi-annual survey of 10,000 renters and homeowners, bundled into an analysis it calls the U.S. Housing Confidence Survey.
The question here is: do you agree that homeownership is necessary for the good life and the American Dream?
- Among people of various races, Hispanic survey respondents most associate homeownership with the American Dream, at 70 percent.
- Among people of different generations, millennials are most likely to associate the two, at 65 percent.
- Despite the association, fewer millennial renters -- 46 percent -- expressed confidence they would be able to afford a home, compared to six months ago, when 50 percent did.
As the third bullet point attests, the American Dream and its go-with--owning a home--are under attack. There's no good reason we can think of that fewer than half of our young adults are confident they'll be able to afford a home.
The attack is subtle, and it's insidious, and one of it's more frustrating aspects is the attack's genesis. Us.
Us, in this case, as voters, taxpayers, citizens who elect, re-elect, and either support or don't oppose elected officials and agencies that are the biggest source of weight and inertia the housing market faces right now.
An inescapable fact. One buying a house buys labor, materials, a lot, services, overheads, and a passel of local government add-ons. Those local government add-ons, we know, are one of the primary suppressors of housing's recovery right now. We have written about this at BUILDER in the past few months, but there's certainly more work to do to expose the vicious-circle effects of many, many local regulatory, legal, permitting, entitlements, fees, and time lost.
This is the "attack," subtle and innocent-sounding as it may appear.
Builders can do two things to address, fight, overcome this attack.
One is to work wonders, as they often do, at the community support level, to plan, place-make, build value, and add compelling, thriving, sustainable, and vital new neighborhood blood to communities whose reflexive impulse would be to repel, thwart, stonewall new development. Need-driven, customer-centric, value-filled design, engineering, and construction is, as we've found in our work with the TRI Pointe BUILDER Responsive Home project, is a must.
The second is to work politics. Local politics, local voters, local taxpayers, and their local elected officials. They--and us--are the source of the "attack" on housing that's affordable to our young adults. And yes, fear, is what's driving that attack ever forward into the months of 2016.